You only have one chance to make a great impression.
What impression is your business having on your new recruit during their onboarding journey?
Are you smashing their expectations out of the park and leaving them bounding into the office for more? Are you meeting the expectations you set out during the recruitment process? Or is the gap between their expectations and the reality like house hunting?
New employee expectations are at their highest on day 1 of the new job. The promised land awaits. Everything that was not right about their previous role is about to be long forgotten as they enter the land of dreams.
The reality however, can often be quite different and bring the eager new recruit crashing down to earth rapidly.
As an employer it is ideal that the gap of expectations vs reality is kept to a minimum to maximise engagement.
How you welcome the newest member of your team from day 1 right through their early months can leave a lasting impression.
What do new employees want when they start?
1. A meeting with their manager on Day 1
Sounds obvious right? Adam Grant reveals in his article, The Surprising Value of Obvious Insights, that people analytics experts at Google studied effective ways to onboard new hires. Too busy is not a good enough excuse to skip this crucial welcome meeting on day 1. The value of the manager spending time with the new hire talking about their role and responsibilities and then holding regular check-ins during the initial months can bring the new starter up to speed month faster than allowing them to work it out.
2. Having what they need to get started
Nothing says 'welcome' like a clean desk and having the tools of the trade working and operational from the start. This approach sure beats clumsily chasing IT around the office and working it out as you go.
Setting the scene that you are professional, efficient and organised will go a long way to ensuring you set the right first impression with your new starter.
The sooner they have the tools to get going the sooner they can start the process of coming up to speed and adding value.
3. A plan for the first few months
A new starter can only absorb so much information. To avoid information overload and forgetting the important parts, schedule a plan to best utilise your new starters' energy and enthusiasm. Include the people to meet, the meetings to attend, key compliance training and information gathering plus a mix of learning, observing, contributing and doing to keep momentum.
Having a well-structured plan will minimise the new starter anxiety that they have to know it all in the first week. A plan is a good way to place the control back with the employee to get the important tasks complete and find their way in their role in a way that suits their style.
4. A lunch or social event as an informal way to spend time with the team
All work and no play can set a rigid first impression. As soon as possible hold a team lunch, morning tea or if you have a small team go out for coffee or for a walk around the block or the nearest park. In an informal and relaxed setting, the culture and team dynamic will be easier to tap into for the new starter and the barriers will more easily be broken down.
Creating a positive team dynamic is a fast way to alleviate new starter angst and ensure a smooth transition into the team.
5. A buddy or go-to person to answer all the questions no one wants to ask
A buddy is an informal relationship with a colleague and presents a safe space for the new employee to nut out the nuances of the company and the role with no judgement.
Questions like, what was that person’s name sitting in the corner? When do we have the company all hands meeting? What was the name of that system that does what I need for my role? All the questions that a new employee has, to learn about company culture, or to get that introduction to the person who can help with their project can be answered by a buddy.
Sapling HR, experts in onboarding, kindly offer a Free Buddy Program Playbook on their site. Their guidance is to ensure that the buddy program is strategic to get maximum impact. They report that 56% of new hires want a buddy during their first week, and, if run well for the recipient, they will be more likely to pay it forward and help the next new starter.
None of these ideas are unique or difficult to implement. The difference that they can make if implemented for a new starter can be the difference between whether they will stick around for the long haul or take off during probation.
The positive impacts of a good onboarding process are outlined by Cox Purtell who state; “It’s estimated that 50% of senior outside hires fail within the first 18 months, and up to 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days. Employees who complete a great onboarding process however, are 58% more likely to be at the company three years later. A structured, well-thought out onboarding process not only helps new employees feel welcome, but it lays the foundation for a good, long term relationship.”
A few tried and tested steps can leave a positive and lasting impression with your new starter and get them up to speed and integrated into the team and the company faster and more effectively.
It is my belief that no one starts a new role with the intent of performing poorly. Set your new employees up for success from the minute they walk through the front door and make sure their expectations are blown out of the water.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for help with your onboarding process